Famous African-American neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson is Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. He is scheduled to retire later this year from performing surgeries, and speculation is rampant as to whether Carson already has a second career in mind, and if that second act involves a foray into politics.
Carson fueled the possibility of a political career by making headlines as the keynote speaker at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Normally nonpartisan, the event was attended by Pres. Barack Obama, Vice Pres. Joe Biden and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), among other notables.
Although Carson says he is independent of political parties and is part of the “Logic Party,” he gave several indicators that his political beliefs are largely aligned with the base of the Republican Party.
Political correctness. During his keynote message, carried by C-SPAN, Carson spoke of how dangerous political correctness is, using talking points taken directly from the GOP playbook. “The PC police are out in force everywhere,” Carson explained.
Health care. Although he did not explicitly denounce Obamacare, Carson expressed a preference for individual health care accounts, a notion that has great currency among Republicans. He said, “Here’s my solution: When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed, pretax, from the time you’re born ’til the time you die.”
Proportional tax. Carson advocates a flat tax which he believes is fair and Biblically inspired. “What we need to do is come up with something simple. And when I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe, God, and he’s given us a system. It’s called a tithe… You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10 you put in one. Of course you’ve got to get rid of the loopholes.” His tax proposal fits in nicely with GOP orthodoxy.
Religious right appeal. A member of the Seventh Day Adventist, Carson has long had ties with evangelical, faith-based organizations that are often socially conservative. His books such as “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” “Think Big,” “The Big Picture,” and “America the Beautiful, Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great,” were all published by Zondervan Publishing, an international Christian publishing company and media organization.
Helping Republicans out of a dilemma. For a party reeling from allegations that it has a very small tent and lacks diversity, Republicans must view Carson as a gift sent directly from heaven. And what better way to address Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s admonition that the GOP must stop being the stupid party than to have a successful brain surgeon on board? Carson has been praised by every Republican mouthpiece from Rush Limbaugh to Fox News. And the Wall Street Journal even ran an editorial declaring, “Ben Carson for President.”
Carson’s 23-minute prayer breakfast speech has been viewed over two million times on youtube. The speech has garnered much attention and created a buzz that could catapult Carson toward a political career. If he wanted one. At age 61, he is still in his prime years. If he were to enter politics, would it be as a presidential candidate, or would he run for Maryland governor or senator? One thing is for sure. The political fit for Carson is with the GOP. He might say he is independent, but he would need the political apparatus of one of the two major parties. Only super wealthy individuals like Ross Perot and Michael Bloomberg can operate outside the party system. Unlike Colin Powell, Carson could actually fit into the modern GOP.
As to whether he might climb into the political ring, Carson said to Fox News, “If the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it, I would.” In another interview with Jonathan Karl, Carson said, “That’s not my intention (to run). But I always say, ‘I’ll leave that up to God.'”
Carson would certainly shake up the establishment should he enter the political sphere.
2013 National Prayer Breakfast, covered by C-SPAN, February 2013